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Demeaning non-nuclear families isolates a majority of Americans

Demeaning non-nuclear families isolates a majority of Americans

Demeaning non-nuclear families isolates a majority of Americans
March 03
12:00 2023

Various family dynamics exist throughout the United States, from single-parent households to same-sex couples. Despite this, conservative figures like former President Donald Trump exclusively champion nuclear families, which are family units solely consisting of a mother, father and their children. This rhetoric is incompatible with American culture as it excludes the many other family dynamics that exist in the U.S.

Trump recently stated in a video he released in January that, if he became president in 2024, he would promote the nuclear family dynamic by using federal law to penalize doctors who provide gender-affirming care to minors. Though his policy explicitly targets transgender Americans, his statements about protecting the sanctity of the family by encouraging one family dynamic over the others are especially concerning. By glorifying nuclear family units, Trump’s rhetoric threatens other family dynamics, from single-family households to same-sex couples and their children. 

However, U.S. political figures embracing traditional dynamics are far from abnormal. Previous presidents like Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama had families that embodied the nuclear family dynamic. Roosevelt and Kennedy used radio and television to increase their popularity by putting their nuclear families in the spotlight. 

During an era of consistent conflicts, such as World War II, the Great Depression, the Vietnam War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. citizens had no choice but to rely on the government. During these decades, Roosevelt and Kennedy gained national respect since they could resolve most situations peacefully despite national uncertainty. 

Patriotism throughout the U.S. skyrocketed and because of this, citizens desired to enhance a notable principle of America: family. The Roosevelts and Kennedys had a similar family dynamic – a father, mother and biological children – meaning most citizens wished to follow suit. 

Considering this, it is ironic that Trump desires to enforce the nuclear family dynamic because he himself has children with multiple partners. Even if Trump implemented these ideas, it is almost impossible to regulate them since there is more diversity and representation in the U.S. compared to the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century, the only president who was part of a nuclear family was Obama, and he is African American.

As of 2014, one in six children in America is in a blended family, according to a study by Pew Research, which entails step-siblings or half-siblings. There is also a decline in children living with two parents in their first marriage: 46 percent live with two parents in their first marriage, as opposed to 61 percent in 1980. America is changing, so attempting to force older familial norms on the other 54 percent of American children and their families is counterproductive to American progression. Twenty-six percent of children live with a single parent and children in a co-parenting dynamic make up 7 percent of American children. 

Usually, children cannot control their family’s financial situation, especially if their parents lack a college education. While most American parents today are older and better educated, 46 percent of single parents have less than a high school education, followed by 41 percent having a mere high school education

Encompassing unique familial circumstances is ideal for inclusivity in America, yet there is a common presumption that accepting every family dynamic will eliminate nuclear families. However, this is not the intention whatsoever. 

Instead, normalizing unique familial circumstances aside from the nuclear family dynamic is the answer. Attempting to erase the ten remaining dynamics to restore a skewed perception of traditionalism in the U.S. fuels treacherous nostalgia, where domestic abuse and racism ran rampant.

To prevent the erasure of diverse familial circumstances, spreading awareness on social media platforms is critical. While they may not undergo normalization until decades later, advocating that multiple dynamics can perform similar functions to a nuclear family will demonstrate that one family dynamic is not the solution to a country’s problems.

Featured Illustration by Makayla Sanchez

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Ally Brown

Ally Brown

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